The Love/Hate Relationship (between me and I-4)

Monday through Friday I drive twenty-five miles both to and from work from Windermere, a town bordering Orlando, to downtown Orlando. In general, the six-lane and sometimes eight-lane interstate, I-4, is busy, but traffic moves continuously at 6 a.m., allowing me to make it to work in roughly thirty-five minutes. If I leave work on time at 3:15 p.m., traffic moves at a slightly slower pace than the morning, but I can still get home in forty-five minutes without much agitation. However, there is one entrance ramp that is taxing; the Gore Street entrance ramp merges with the entrance ramp of another main highway, 408, before joining the interstate. The set-up is poor as there are not two lanes to allow drivers to merge slowly. Of course, Gore Street must yield which results in the Gore Street vehicles often coming to a complete stop, nearly causing an accident as the following vehicles screech to a halt and blow their horns. In addition, once one has stopped on the entrance ramp, it is nearly impossible to merge into the spaces between the moving cars, because that driver must gain speed rapidly or be run over.

Unfortunately, I often leave the hospital late due to surgeries that run into the evening or last longer than expected. Rush-hour lasts from about 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Orlando. This of course means that it can take me much, much longer to get home (and I’m even heading in the direction with less traffic). During thus very long rush-hour, as long as there are no accidents, the traffic is usually continuously moving . . . although at a crawl of a pace.

Last Monday I had the pleasure of enduring the rush-hour traffic as described above with an extra little twist. I left work and went to get my hair cut near downtown Orlando. It was about 5:30 p.m. when I finally started for home. The traffic was traveling at 45 mph as I drove out of the city but crawled at 20 mph as I approached another high-traffic highway and Disney. I was driving the green Saturn, or the Green Turd as Alan has nicknamed my car, which did not yet have the transmission replaced. My car functioned great at regular highway speeds, but the transmission didn’t want to up-shift after traveling at continuous, slow speeds. This meant that when the traffic finally began to speed up again, my automatic transmission was stuck in a low gear (probably second) which resulted in high rpm’s and a loud engine as I tried to coax the car along. I tried a few tricks, but had to pull onto the shoulder for a few minutes before the transmission would cooperate. This occurred several times as I neared my exit. Finally, I had to pull into a parking lot and allow the transmission to rest again. After thirty minutes of rest, it still wouldn’t work which led to in me crying in frustration. It took an hour before the transmission would work as it should. My drive home was a three hour ordeal that night!

Not to worry, I hear traffic in Kenya has its own pleasures like cars weaving all over the road and driving on the wrong side of the road. Or maybe we Americans drive on the wrong side of the road. Who knows…

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Filed under alan, I-4, Kenya, Orlando, Saturn, Windermere

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